Thursday, October 26, 2006


One of the more interesting, nay, fascinating, things about my recent trip to San Antonio was encountering perfumed women once again. I say “once again” because I cannot, for the life of me, remember the last time (or the first time, for that matter) I caught a whiff of a delicately perfumed woman in Portales. It just doesn’t seem to happen. Perhaps I’m just not hanging out at the “right” sort of places in P-Town. But it was a minor joy to have my olfactory senses treated every so often while in San Antonio. I like perfume, and have enjoyed it on the women in my life from a very early age.

It used to be that women had a “signature” scent, a brand they used almost exclusively. I’m not sure that’s true any longer…perhaps it’s an artifact from a by-gone age. Both my Mom and my grandmother had signature scents. My maternal grandmother was an Evening in Paris woman. Her dressing table was littered with those cobalt-blue bottles and containers, each emblazoned with a silver label with the brand name in flowing script. Evening in Paris was all she ever wore, as far as I know. My grandmother walked around trailing a pink could of Evening in Paris. You could walk into a room she’d vacated an hour ago and know she’d been there. My mother was quite different in that regard.

Mom was a Chanel No 5 woman (which, if you clicked the link, you’ll note is hideously expensive these days)…none of the upstart “new” Chanel fragrances for her, thank you. Just the original. She applied her perfume in a quick, deft manner that was the grand finale to her toilette ritual—otherwise known as “fixing my face”—a dab behind each ear and a dab in the crook of each elbow. She’d place her index finger over the bottle opening, tilt the bottle quickly on end, apply the dab, repeat. Not much at all, when you came down to it. “There are other places, too, but not for you to know,” she once told me, with a grin and a wink. Which, of course, was lost on me until much later in life. My mother’s use of perfume was subtle to the point one wasn’t really sure she was wearing any at all, but you knew she had a very attractive aroma about her. And that’s the way it should be, to my way of thinking.

The Second Mrs. Pennington wore White Ginger when we first met. White Ginger is a very clean, fresh sort of scent and it drove me nuts, in a very good, extremely good, way. Very appropriate for a young woman, and also very erotic. Perhaps it was the fact I was young and in love. Or perhaps White Ginger was the icing on the cake, so to speak. But whatever it was, that scent, on the rare occasion I encounter it these days, immediately transports me back to Former Happy Days. Interestingly, TSMP developed an allergy to perfume later in life and quit wearing it altogether. She also insisted I quit wearing after-shave, too, because it affected her in the same way.

Which brings me to the subject of male scents, or after-shave. My father, he of the Greatest Generation, used exactly two: Old Spice and Mennen Skin Bracer. That was it. I think that approach was wide-spread among men of his cohort. It was unseemly for men to wear “perfume,” and he told me so in no uncertain terms. So…during my adolescence the only scents in my medicine cabinet were his scents—like father, like son.

That changed when I went into the military. I remember standing in the common latrine one evening, getting ready to splash some Skin Bracer on after shaving, and having a friend ask “Why are you using that cheap (stuff)?” “Here,” he says, “try this,” handing me his bottle of English Leather. I did. And I got a good comment from the Lady Friend that evening, something on the order of “Wow…you smell good!” (or something to that general effect.) I went to the BX the next day and bought some English Leather. Which, in turn, was followed by Jade East, Canoe, British Sterling, and all sorts of scents. I settled on Canoe and wore that until TSMP insisted I abandon all scent products. Now that I’m single again my “signature” scent is Burberry’s (or Burberry’s Weekend, when I can find it)…and will probably remain so.

And just to bring this full-circle, I have it on very good authority that Laurie puts a dab of Hoppes Number Nine on when she goes out…{insert evil grin here}

Oh…if you’re wondering: I’m better, but still not well. I won’t be venturing very far a field today.


  1. My dad wore Old Spice, too. I loved those old commercials. Now, just hearing about it brings back memories of my dad. I don't remember my mother ever wearing a scent.

    Me, I've never been much of a perfume wearer. I loved Sand and Sable, but it always gave me sneezing fits. Nowadays, I have to be careful what I wear. If it is a musk based scent, my snakes think I'm a giant mouse and try to eat me.

  2. Sorry to hear you've been under the weather, Buck. My husband had tummy trouble last night, too. He swears it was the seaweed salad he was coerced into trying at a Japanese Restaurantlast night.

    My parents didn't wear scent and I'm afraid I'm like TFMP in that regard. Gives me a headache. (At least I don't have to worry about a snake wanting to eat me!)
    About fragrance allergies.
    I used to wear Estee Lauder in my teen years.

    (I'm working on it. Honest. I actually figured out how to upload Doug's photos. But then Blogger went down for maintainance.)

  3. I thought Burberry's signature scent was Chav!

  4. I'm an Aliage by Estee Lauder wearer - kind of sage, grass smell.

    Pine-sol is my favorite smell. The smell of Pine-sol takes me back to early mornings in NM when Dad would mop down our laundrymat. The steam would be rising from the machines where he was doing the laundry from our lodge. I was about eight years old. I wish I could dab pine-sol behind my ears and smell it all day long.

    Hope you are feeling better - have a good weekend.

  5. Dan: but...but...I was sure it was safe by now!

    Allen: Gotta admit your comment went right over my head. But...Google is my friend. This article set me straight. From that article: She admitted that the adverse publicity over the popularity of the group's (ed: Burberry's) trademark check with "chavs" - an emerging class of twentysomething urbanites who favour designer labels but lack the social status of traditional luxury goods customers - was probably behind the fall in demand. "It won't have helped, I'm sure", Ms Cartwright added.

    Becky: The sneezing fits and watering eyes were the symptoms TSMP had when exposed to fragrances. I sympathize! LOL about the giant mouse bit!

    Sorry to hear about your husband, Bec. But seaweed salad?'s been too long! You're gonna let us know when the blog is up, right?

    Lou: "Favorite" smells is an interesting topic. Pine-Sol reminds me of endless hours spent cleaning barracks/shops/other stuff in the military. Not a good association for me, but I understand yours! One of my favorite smells is burning castor (Bean) oil, used as a lubricant in two-stroke racing motors. It's distinctive, usually only found at race tracks, and smells like SPEED, fun, and excitement! And motorcycles.

  6. Actually I misspoke before. My dad's favorite fragrance is WD-40!
    I used to love it. Now, if I get a big whiff of it (or other things like it), a blood vessel under one of my finger joints will sometimes burst. Hurts like heck. :(
    It's a long story having to do with some chemical exposures at work after a major library renovation - diesel fumes seeping up through improperly sealed conduits from an underground parking area, improper pesticide use and methane gas leaks. And the ubiquitous mold from the previous El Nino years of flooding. I didn't pursue worker's comp, though. The library paid for medical bills and time off and staff was allowed to switch locations.)

    Lou, your Estee Lauder fragrance sounds lovely. Even your description of Lysol and why you love it evoked a memory that I have, too. In Wyoming we used to do our wash in a laundromat located in a meadow. The owner, a dear friend of ours, would do the same Lysol routine on some mornings and the combination of a warm morning meadow, sunlight streaming in the windows of the log building, and Lysol, still evokes that feeling of comfort and satisfaction. (Even though I can't go near Lysol anymore.)

    I love nature smells the best, though - sagebrush, cattails in the morning sun, pine trees, meadow grass, the mix of canyon and ocean on a Santa Ana day at the beach, nightblooming jasmine and oleander (if it isn't too strong)... I've always been a nature girl, can you tell?

    I suppose our favorite scents recall a time when we were most happy or moved. Funny how they engage us in such a different way. Buck, your memory of your mom was beautifully written. I could imagine being right there with you during those special moments with your mom.

    I've got some stories from Buenos Aires to edit, then I'm going to work on Douglas' blog. I'll share it with you as soon as it's presentable. :)

  7. LOL! No, no, no.... the man is supposed to wear the Hoppes #9, so I can be attracted to him.

  8. Bec said: It's a long story having to do with some chemical exposures at work after a major library renovation...

    OMG, Bec, that sounds terrible! I'm not sure what I would have done if I had been in your place. It sounds like you've paid, and continue to pay, a terrible price for someone else's negligence. That is just so wrong.

    Thanks for the kind words about the writing, once again. Your compliments are most appreciated!

    Laurie: Now just HOW did I get that back-asswards, anyway? :-)

  9. Heehee, not a problem. I'd rather wear Hoppes myself than some of the rank stuff that passes itself off as perfume ;)


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